Tag Archive | "Hotel Havana"

NAO Visits the Yucatan; Ocho Celebrates Hemingway’s Birthday

Ocho, Library Foundation to celebrate Hemingway’s birthday with food, drink

Ocho and the San Antonio Public Library Foundation’s First Edition Society will be celebrating the the birthday of beloved author, occasional Cuban resident and renowned cocktail enthusiast Ernest Hemingway with a special event on July 19, from 7-11:30 p.m.

PrintThe event is free to attend and will provide appropriately themed food and drink specials to celebrate the occasion along with live music from Tiburon.

VIP tickets are available for $30 with a portion of proceeds benefiting the SAPLF and San Antonio libraries. VIP guests will enjoy complimentary drinks and hors d’oeurves, and will be able to enjoy VIP terrace access.

Ocho is at the Hotel Havana, 1015 Navarro Street.

VIP tickets are $30 and can be purchased at by clicking on the events calendar. VIP tickets may also be purchased by calling 210-225-4728, ext. 10.

Nao Presents:  A taste of the Yucatan now at Nao

SAN ANTONIO — Nao has begun its Yucatan menu, a part of the Culinary Institute of America San Antonio  restaurant’s exploration of Latin America cuisines.

Nao diners have explored the flavors of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Oaxaca, Peru, Venezuela, and the Spanish Caribbean through the restaurant’s Celebration of Cuisines program, and they will now step deep into the heart of southern Mexico. This Yucatan-inspired menu offers three courses for $42 and will run until Monday, Sept. 8.

Chef Geronimo Lopez and the Culinary Institute of America San Antonio students will bring this region’s most celebrated flavors from the Yucatan, where spicy Mexican chiles meld with cool Caribbean flavors often ending in a celebration of Mexican cacao.

Many of Mexico’s most important dishes, techniques, and flavor combinations were born in the Yucatan, and Nao will commemorate this culinary hot-spot by transforming the restaurant through food and culture.

Geronimo Lopez

Geronimo Lopez

“This menu is truly representative of the Yucatan and you can taste the rich Mayan influence that remains intact in every dish,” says Lopez. “Our goal is to give you a glimpse of that beautiful ancestral heritage through this dining experience.”

The special Yucatan tasting menu features an appetizer, main course and dessert for $42. The dinner begins with a choice between venison “tzic,” a crispy corn tostada with pickled onions, radishes, cilantro, and avocado; or a traditional pickled salad of lima beans, chayote and pearl onion “escabeche.”

The menu continues with two main course options, the seafood “pibxcatic,” featuring stuffed chiles with crab meat, lobster knuckles, shrimp, tomato and “hojasanta” sauce; or roasted pork tenderloin served with black “recado” sauce, black bean relish, sweet plantain puree, goat cheese, and corn dumplings. For dessert, diners can enjoy a cacao nib “nicoatole,” a cacao-corn pudding served with sapote fruit ice cream and anise sauce.

Nao’s beverage manager, Tim Bryand, will craft a Yucatan-inspired cocktail, the Ix Chel, to accompany this menu. The cocktail is made with Blanco Tequila, Yucatan Tangerine Liqueur, lime, orange, and Xtabentun spray.

Nao is a restaurant and CIA classroom dedicated to the exploration, preservation and celebration of the authentic cuisines, cultures and bounty of Latin America. Nao is open for dinner on Tuesday to Thursday from 5-9 p.m.  and on Friday and Saturday from 5-10 p.m. Nao also offers a pop-up taco stand at the farmers’ market on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and happy hour on Tuesday to Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m, and on Friday and Saturday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Gaucho Gourmet offers can sugars — now with natural flavors

Gaucho Gourmet Flavored sugarsGaucho Gourmet announces its organic, fair-trade certified pure cane evaporated sugar — but with an added zing. These sugars have natural flavors added to bring out the best taste possible without adding anything extra.  Use these sugars for sprinkling, baking, on hot or cold drinks, and anywhere else you need a pop of flavor.

Get these bulk sugars that you can now buy in home-sized quantities, but also with bulk sizes and pricing to stay stocked! Some examples include Raspberry Cane Sugar, Coconut Cane Sugar and Lemon Cane Sugar.

Other suggestions now are caciocavallo, a stringy, semi-hard Italian cheese that’s great for sandwiches and more of the popular imported burrata DOP.


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Fiesta Specials Capture the Color, Flavor of SA’s Favorite Party

lilys fiesta1

Fiesta runs through April 27. Here are a few food and fun events happening that you can enjoy in between the parades, the Oyster Bake, NIOSA or whatever your favorite event is.

Lily’s Cookies Add Color to Your Fiesta

Lily’s Cookies, 2716 McCullough Ave., is getting into Fiesta in a huge way.

The bakery is offering all sorts of colorful cookies, from sombreros to colorful attire to flowers that you can enjoy throughout Fiesta.

For more information, call 210-832-0886.

Ocho Dishes Up the Fiesta Specials

The Hotel Havana and Ocho, 1015 Navarro St., have gotten into the Fiesta spirit. Guests receive a Fiesta wreath on their doors, while medal collectors can purchase the hotel’s third annual collectible.

Meanwhile, Ocho’s chef Toby Soto has created a special Fiesta menu that includes:

  • Pork and Golden Raisin Empanadas with Salsa Roja, $8
  • Pollo Verde Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with Mole Negro,$8
  • Albondigas de Res with a Smoked Tomato Broth, $8
  • Martinated Vegetable Skewers on a bed of Yellow Rice, $8
  • Mini Funnel Cakes, $8

Drink specials include:

  • Havana Margarita, $5
  • Cuban Breeze, $5
  • Sangria, $5
  • Sol, $4

Art and a Drink at a Great Price at Barriba Cantina

barriba1Barriba Cantina on the Riverwalk, 111 W. Crockett St., is ready to party in style.

Barriba is again featuring renowned local artist and designer H. Michael Karshis with his Countdown to Fiesta creation.

“Fiesta is the iconic San Antonio event that belongs to visitors and residents alike, so we are teaming with Dulce Vida tequila to offer anyone that brings in a Fiesta medal—old or new—our ‘Skinny Rita’ drink, one of our signature handcrafted drinks, for $3.25 (half off the happy hour price),” says Barriba Cantina general manager Gina Hartbarger. “We are limiting this offer to one discounted drink a day, during Fiesta only (through April 27), but the customer also gets a keeper glass with the recipe on it and a Fiesta-pink Barriba Koozie….what a deal! We will also post the medals on the Fiesta Wall near the Countdown to Fiesta artwork.”

“Fiesta is part Texas, part Mexico—just like Barriba Cantina,” says Karshis. “This installation has been up for a few months and I love it that customers are celebrating birthdays or anniversaries at Barriba and taking photos in front of the countdown.”

For information, call 210-228-9876

Earl Abel’’s Goes Global

Earl Abel’s, 1201 Austin Highway, is celebrating Fiesta with a new globally inspired dish every day through April 27. The special will be priced at $9 and will be available for both lunch and dinner.  Here are a few of the specials being offered:

  • 4/11: Greek cuisine featuring a Gyro Sandwich with Fries or Chips.
  • 4/12: Mexican cuisine featuring a Beef Taco, Cheese Enchiladas, Rice & Beans.
  • 4/13: German cuisine featuring Venison Sausage, Red Cabbage & German Potato Salad.
  • 4/14: Carribean cuisine featuring Fish Tacos with a Mango Salsa, Sweet Potato Fries or Chips
  • 4/15: Italian night featuring Spaghetti and Meatballs and a Dinner Salad.
  • 4/16: Texan theme with BBQ Beef Ribs, Baked Beans and Potato Salad.

Call 210-822-7333 for information.


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Events: Havana Shiner Beer Dinner, Sandy Oaks, ‘BBQ Snob’ Book Signing

Sandy Oaks patio

UPDATE! Sandy Oaks has moved its Dining Under the Stars to July 12. The date also has been changed in the copy below, as the May 24th event has been canceled.


Dining Under the Stars at Sandy Oaks

On Friday, July 12, Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard will present a mixture of fine dining and an international wine list. Chef Scott Grimmett will have a prix fixe dinner with options so you can decide your dishes and then pick wine to match.  Just in time to herald National Wine Day.

The dining will take place outside, under the stars, in the beautiful country setting of Sandy Oaks. In case of inclement weather, seating will be moved indoors. Dinner: 6 p.m. Cost:  $55 per person, plus tax.  Call (210) 621-0044 for more information and to make reservations. Visit Sandy Oaks online here.

Shiner Beer Dinner at Hotel Havana

Shiner Beer Logo realHotel Havana, Shiner Beer and the San Antonio Library Foundation will host a Shiner Supper Club Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m. The four-course meal will highlight the culinary bounty of Central Texas.

Hotel Havana chef Toby Soto will prepare recipes from Whole Larder Love using natural meat raised by sixth-generation Texas rancher Loncity Cartwright of Twin Oaks Rand and local produce. Each course will be paired with a selection of beers presented by Shiner.

Tickets are $75 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. Space is limited and reservations can be made by calling Hotel Havana at 210-222-2008. Or, visit the events page at

‘BBQ Snob’ Daniel Vaughn to be at Two Bros BBQ

Two Bros. BBQ Market will host Daniel “BBQ Snob” Vaughn at a book signing and celebration Friday, May 24, 6-9 p.m.

The Prophets of Smoked MeatThe Texas barbecue aficionado and author of the newly released “The Prophets of Smoked Meat,” an Anthony Bourdain book, Vaughn will be selling and signing just just-released books.

There will be  a live band and an offer of Two Bros. BBQ pack along with a full rack of “cherry babies” and a signed copy of “The Prophets of Smoked Meat” for $60. Buckets of beer are also on special.

Two Bros. is at 12656 West. Ave. 210-496-0222.

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The Negroni: A Beautifully Bitter Answer to Sweet Cocktails

A Negroni

I worked up an appetite for Campari earlier this summer when I visited Italy. This bitters, with the bright red color, is an apéritif, an herb-infused alcohol served largely before dinner as a means of working up your appetite for food.

It was one of several herbal and vegetal intoxicants that cast its spell over me, and I loved trying various amari as well as Cynar, an artichoke-based drink that went well with a splash of peach soda. I’m not fond of overly sweet cocktails, such as cosmos or the various candied martinis that are all too common nowadays. So, the bracingly bitter difference that these alcohols  brought to cocktails made them a pleasure to sip and study.

I realize that you won’t find Cynar at every bar in town — perhaps not any bar in town, though I have seen it at Twin Liquors, Saglimbeni and Spec’s for about $27 a bottle. Campari, however, is a little more popular (and it’s also priced around $27 a bottle).  It’s usually tucked in with the other supposedly weird bottles, with labels bearing names such as Pimm’s No. 1 and Drambouie, all of which were purchased by the bar manager who was there three or four years ago and they were promptly turned to dust catchers after he  moved on to another job.

And that bottle of Campari generally means I can get a Negroni, though, more often than not, I have had to explain (and occasionally explain several times again) what is in this classic drink.

Not familiar with this crazy red beauty? It’s been around for close to a century, according to Wikipedia, and in all that time, its recipe hasn’t changed: It’s equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari with an orange twist. What could be simpler, right?

Well, in an age when classic cocktails are precociously trendy and bartenders prize themselves on being able to layer a true Ramos gin fizz or  whip up a whiskey sour with egg white, getting a Negroni has not been easy. A few bartenders have refused to make any drink they’ve never heard of. One bartender seemed to believe that those three liquors should not be mixed together, because I was served each separately and left to mix my own.

A Negroni at Zinc

Kudos to the folks at the Havana and at Bohanan’s Bar for knowing how to make a Negroni properly without asking questions. And thanks go to the bartenders at Zinc, the bar at Oro in the Emily Morgan and the Blue Box because they at least asked what was in the cocktail, listened and then made one to order. The recipe is so easy that most tasted just like they did at home, though I suspect a dash or two of bitters might have been splashed into one or two for a little added spark of flavor, though the blend of herbs and spices in Campari offers quite an explosion on their own.

You can vary the recipe. I found one cocktail book that made a Vodka Negroni, substituting vodka for what the author referred to as the medicinal quality that she detects in gin. My counterargument is that you can at least taste something in gin; I still haven’t found much need for vodka because I don’t need alcohol that badly to settle for something flavorless. (She also uses more vodka than Campari and vermouth, which is shifting the focus in the wrong direction, as far as I’m concerned, but chacun à son goût, as the French say.)

That probably explains where the lighter appeal of the Americano comes in. This cocktail, which actually predates the Negroni, uses club soda instead of gin, leaving you with a fizzy mix of bitter, herbal Campari and lightly sweet, fruity vermouth. Trivia fans will know of the Americano because it is the first cocktail ordered by James Bond in the novel, “Casino Royal,” according to

So, during the waning days of summer (as least I like to think it’s waning), try something a little different to take the edge off the heat.

For more Campari cocktail recipes, click here.

1 part gin
1 part red or rosso vermouth
1 part bitters, such as Campari

Pour into a shaker with plenty of ice. Shake until cold. Pour into a rocks class, ice and all. Garnish with an orange peel twist. Some like to strain the drink into a chilled martini glass.

From John Griffin

Vodka Negroni

1 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
Splash of Perrier (optional)
Lemon twist

Fill cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add vodka, Campari and vermouth. Stir and strain into glass over ice cubes. Add optional Perrier. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From “Modern Cocktails & Appetizers” from Martha Gill


1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
3 ounces club soda

In a highball glass filled with ice, pour in Campari and vermouth. Stir. Add club soda and stir.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From “Pink Panther Cocktail Party” by Adam Rocke


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A Few Tasty Bites from Around Town

Here are few highlights from some restaurant visits around town:

Pzole at Ocho.

Pozole at Ocho

The cooler temperatures we’ve had this week have brought thoughts of a nice, warm bowls of soup. What could be more comforting that a pork-based pozole with plenty of hominy in it. Jason Garcia at Ocho in the Hotel Havana, 1015 Navarro St., doesn’t stop there. He serves his with plenty of red cabbage, onions, cilantro and, of course, radishes on the side that you can garnish to suit your tastes. Plus, there’s a slice of lime to give this Southwestern favorite an extra tingle.




Tacos al Pastor at Paloma Blanca

Tacos al Pastor at Paloma Blanca

Mexican street food doesn’t get much better than these mini-tacos topped with marinated pork and slivers of grilled pineapple at Paloma Blanca, 5800 Broadway. On the side are onions, cilantro and lime to give it an extra kick. Plus, you have your choice of the roasted and the fresh salsas that come with your chips or the smoky Salsa de la Señora.


Moroccan Chicken at Candlelight Coffeehouse

Moroccan Chicken at Candlelight Coffeehouse

Chicken breast nowadays has become the dullest of meats, when left on its own. Not so in this dish at Candlelight Coffeehouse, 3011 N. St. Mary’s St. Strips of chicken breast are lightly cooked with vegetables, such as red bell pepper and zucchini in some spicy oil before being tossed with fettuccine and a light curry blend. What that has to do with Morocco is inconsequential. What matters is the taste, which is comforting. Have it with a pot of one of the house tea blends for a relaxing evening.


A few treats from Choicolate

Chocolates from Choicolate

What better way to conclude a meal than with a decadent morsel of chocolate? The beautiful and bold candies from Choicolate, 700 E. Sonterra Blvd., come in a variety of colors and flavors, including mango habanero, hazelnut latte, salted caramel and Earl Grey. At this independent shop, the candies are all crafted by hand using no preservatives.

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Ocho at Havana: Dia de Los Muertos — y Mas

Coming up are two events at Ocho, including a dinner by chef Lou Lambert. Ocho is at Hotel Havana, 1015 Navarro St. It is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Dia De Los Muertos Festivities at Hotel Havana

Oct. 27 to Nov. 2 — Hotel Havana and Ocho celebrate with an altar dedicated to Ernest Hemingway, a special menu of Dia De Los Muertos traditional antojitos, drink specials and live music. No cover charge.

Ocho Supper Club: Chef Lou Lambert

Join Ocho at the Havana for a special culinary evening with chef Lou Lambert as he recreates recipes from his new “Big Ranch, Big City” cookbook and beyond.  Lambert is known for bringing traditional ranch cooking to the forefront of haute cuisine, so don’t miss a chance to experience his unique Texas flavor in an intimate setting along the River Walk.

Cost is $250 per couple (four-course dinner and wine pairings, tax and tip not included). To make reservations call 210-222-2208.

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